HANNIBAL (WGEM) — It was a big day for Hannibal as the brand new Viking Mississippi docked Friday morning.
Over 300 tourists were able to enjoy a warm and sunny afternoon for the Vikings debut.
The Viking Mississippi docked at 7 a.m. with a ceremony.
City guides say it is a monumental event that has been in the works for years since 2016.
It started at 1 p.m.
Mayor James Hark said the Viking Mississippi is not your typical riverboat.
“Ships are on the ocean, boats are in the rivers,” Hark said. “To me, it’s a cruise ship. It’s here in Hannibal, on our new riverbank.”
The Viking is considered one of the largest river cruises, accommodating 386 guests and 148 crew members.
Now that the Mississippi River is on the Viking’s permanent route, Hannibal will have more frequent visitors who will help the local economy.
“We started this beautiful cruise in Saint Paul and it was amazing,” said visitor Cherly Phipps. “Every city we’ve been to has treated us like celebrities. It’s just so exciting.”
Phipps said she and her husband Del wanted to make their six hours in Hannibal count.
“The weather was lovely,” said Phipps. “We were in Hannibal a few years ago and it was raining. So we didn’t stop. And we love Mark Twain, we are both history buffs and so happy to be here.”
Locals also celebrated.
One boy, Neheniah Warthen, is a boating enthusiast who makes it his mission to see every boat dock in Hannibal. He has also been to Keokuk and New Orleans to watch boats there.
His father, Devon, said Neheniah was keeping an eye on the Viking Mississippi and couldn’t be absent this morning.
“It’s a pretty big deal,” said Warten.
Hark said the Viking Mississippi could be one of America’s hometown’s biggest money draws.
“The river boats that come here need fuel,” Hark said. “Fuel has to be bought. Increasing revenue and visitors to historic downtown. That means the stores are able to keep people busy.”
Hannibal business owners were excited to see new faces and the thriving local economy.
“We’re just so excited,” said Dutch Country General Store owner Kathy Wear. “We also had some international visitors, which is always fun.”
The Viking has now departed for her next destination in Saint Louis.
The next cruise is scheduled to arrive in Hannibal on Sunday.
- Viking cruises and schedule
- The Viking Mississippi at CruiseMapper.com
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